Breaking News, December 21 | LIVE UPDATES

Chinese with mild COVID have asked to work as restrictions are eased

Several local governments in China have encouraged people with mild cases of COVID-19 to go to work this week, another sign of the country’s difficulty as delays in virus containment measures lead to waves of infections and rising death tolls. .

Health authorities reported on Tuesday that five people had died in the past 24 hours, all in Beijing, raising concerns that the toll could rise sharply after most “zero-COVID” restrictions are lifted. The official toll likely underestimates the true number, and it is unclear how the release of the virus will play out in China and whether the health system can handle a surge in cases nationwide.

Guiyang, a city in southern Guizhou province, proposed that infected people with few or no symptoms go to work in various sectors, including government offices, state-owned enterprises, medical, health and emergency workers, and those in express delivery and supermarkets.

That’s a big change from just a few weeks ago, when China’s policy was to isolate anyone infected in a hospital or government-run facility. Tuesday’s announcement followed similar ones in the Anhui province cities of Wuhu and Chongqing earlier this week. The moves appear to be in response to labor shortages that have affected medical care and food deliveries.